Sanders heads to big win in Nevada caucuses, Biden in second place

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Bernie Sanders appeared headed to a decisive victory in the Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada on Saturday, and early returns showed Joe Biden landing a second-place finish that would give his struggling campaign new hope.

Fox News projected Sanders as the winner in Nevada, where scattered early returns showed him opening up a dominating lead with about 5% of votes in.

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, will gain fresh momentum for his front-running candidacy in the Democratic White House race with the win in Nevada, where he was buoyed by what entrance polls showed was strong support for a government-run Medicare for All healthcare plan like the one he has proposed.

Biden, the former vice president, had been in desperate need of a strong showing after poor finishes in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden was a distant second to Sanders, but ahead of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, in third.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was fourth in scattered results in Nevada, where voters poured into more than 250 sites around the state to make their pick for a Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

In the final result of a caucus at the famed Bellagio hotel on the Las Vegas strip, Sanders finished with 76 votes, Biden had 45 and no other candidate ended with a vote.

Workers at the hotel, who are members of the Culinary Workers Union, streamed out of the caucus after backing Sanders despite their leadership expressing reservations about his healthcare plan.

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